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Reformation continued… Second Part

Reformation continued… Second Part

Year-End Meeting of Inter-European Division - The Secretary’s Report

November 10, 2017 | Bern, Switzerland. | C. Cozzi, CD-EUDNews.

The report of the Executive Secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Inter-European Region (EUD), Barna Magyarosi, began with a general analysis of the current religious population in Europe.

According to the study by the Pew Research Center, “Christians in Europe are dying faster than they are being born.” The percentages are alarming, considering that in the period of 2010-2015, there was a drop of 5.6 million Christians in comparison to an increase of 2.3 million Muslims and 1.4 million unaffiliated. The resulting data of this analysis were detailed in the Secretary’s report, compelling the committee members to carefully evaluate the impact that these data could have on the Adventist Church in Europe.

The data from the 2008 European Values Study displayed a shrinking number of people who profess to live by Christian values in the European society. Aspects such as belief in God and frequency of participation in activities of communities of faith are in sharp decline. According to this study, people who consider themselves religious are in the lower 30% of the population.

The Secretary then presented data relevant to the Adventist Church in the EUD territory. In the last 30 years, the Church saw a growth of 32% with an annual growth of 0.91%. Specifically, Adventists in the EUD territory are approximately 180,000.

These data present an image of a plateauing church which might sooner or later enter negative growth if nothing is done to stop the current trend. In his report, the Secretary made particular mention of the growth of great urban centers and he invited all present to concentrate in a special way on the needs of this type of social environments.

It is enough to think that 72% of the European population lives in urban structures; surely this requires particular attention.

“We have to conclude that Europe is a challenging mission field, characterized as Post-Christian par excellence. Many Europeans are ‘spiritual not religious’,” said Barna, “following the believing but not belonging pattern of our European Christian society.”

“Europeans look at Christianity and church with suspicion,” explained Barna. “The only way to reach them is via familial and friendly relationships.” For this reason, it has become indispensable to “encourage church members to cultivate relationships with people around them. They won’t come to your CHURCH before they have eaten at your HOUSE!”

Nurture and Retention

Following this report, Claude Richli, Associate Secretary at the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists (GC), presented the theme Nurture and Retention, based on a study by David Trim, Director of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research of the GC, entitled Stopping the Hemorrhage, Healing the Wounded. The study was oriented to create caring and welcoming church communities.

The analysis was based on a research that highlighted the principal motives that push Adventists to leave their Church.

Among the most common motives cited: lack of a relationship with church members, disappointment in the constant margins of hypocrisy and incoherence (experienced mainly by youth), lack of compassion for the hurting, too much focus on minor issues, high levels of conflict in the congregation, moral failures of members, legalistic attitudes, prolonged doubt in the Adventist doctrine, etc.

“A significant piece of data is that 40% of the members who abandoned the Church did not receive any contact neither from the pastor nor from any other members of the Church,” emphasized Richli, citing Trim’s study. Minor percentages presented sporadic contact attempts.

In the face of this concerning scenario, albeit not completely a new one for the Executive Committee members, the decision was made to add an activity to the agenda: a period of debate to share not only the reality of the European Adventist Church but also possible solutions, which are necessary for a change in course.

 

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